Saturday, December 22, 2007

Final Saturday Male Beauty

Nightmare Before Christmas

Bob Herbert has a good op-ed in the New York Times that looks at the growing economic inequality in the USA ( While the top tier of the population makes more and more money, the rest of the populace is left struggling to maintain the life style they had growing up. Of course, the Chimperator is oblivious to such things and, I suspect, could care less. Here are some column highlights:
Christmastime is bonus time on Wall Street, and the Gucci set has been blessed with another record harvest. Forget the turbulence in the financial markets and the subprime debacle. Forget the dark clouds of a possible recession. Bloomberg News tells us that the top securities firms are handing out nearly $38 billion in seasonal bonuses, the highest total ever. But there’s a reason to temper the celebration, if only out of respect for an old friend who’s not doing too well. Even as the Wall Streeters are high-fiving and ordering up record shipments of Champagne and caviar, the American dream is on life-support.
Record bonuses on Wall Street at a time when ordinary working Americans are filled with anxiety about their economic future are signs that the trickle-down phenomenon that was supposed to have benefited everyone never happened. The rich, boosted by the not-so-invisible hand of the corporate ideologues in government, have done astonishingly well in recent decades, while the rest of the population has tended to tread water economically, or drown.

A study released last month by the Pew Charitable Trusts noted that “for most Americans, seeing that one’s children are better off than oneself is the essence of living the American dream.” But for the past 40 years, men in their 30s, prime family-raising age, have found it difficult to outdistance their dads economically. As the Pew study put it: “Earnings of men in their 30s have remained surprisingly flat over the past four decades.” Family incomes have improved during that time largely because of the wholesale entrance of women into the work force.
What seems to be happening now is that working Americans, and that includes the middle class, have exhausted much of their capacity to tread water. Wives and mothers are already working. Mortgages have been refinanced and tremendous amounts of home equity drained. And families have taken on debt loads — for cars, for college tuition, for medical treatment — that would buckle the knees of the strongest pack animals. According to Demos, a policy research group in New York, “American families are using credit cards to bridge the gaps created by stagnant wages and higher costs of living.” Americans owe nearly $900 billion on their credit cards.
Instead of celebrating bonuses this Christmas season, too many American workers are looking with dread toward 2008, worried about their rising levels of debt, or whether they will be able to hang on to a job with few or no benefits or how to tell their kids that they won’t be able to help with the cost of college.

More Saturday Male Beauty

World champion long board surfer Joel Tudor is very cute in person. As a humorous aside. Back a few years ago when Hurricane Bonnie's arrival (and size overhead waves) brought top surfers from around the world to Virginia Beach for the East Coast Surfing Championships, one of my daughters was working as an ECSC volunteer and flirted with Joel, not knowing who he was. Afterwards she said he flirted back, apparently amused that my daughter did not know who he was and therefore wasn't flirting because she knew he was famous in the surfing world. She was embarassed that she did not recognize him. :)

Reshaping the Gay Marriage Debate

e Newsweek, which has a large circulation and is found in many a waiting room, has a story ( that does an excellent job of exposing the difficulties experienced by gay couples in states where gay marriage or civil unions are not allowed. Yes, some of these problems can perhaps be minimized through proper legal documentation, but why should gays not be afforded the same rights of other "married" citizens? As some of the comments on the story show, it all comes down to a portion of society made up by religious bigots/fascists who believe only THEIR religious views should govern all citizens. Here are some story highlights:
Charlene Strong was on her way home in a pounding Seattle winter storm when the call came from her partner, Kate Fleming. Sounding stressed, Fleming told her that a rain was flooding down a hillside and into the couple's basement, where Fleming, an audiobook narrator, was at work in her recording studio. What happened over the next half hour cost Fleming her life and changed Strong's forever.

Frantic efforts produced a pulse. An ambulance raced Fleming to the hospital, with Strong close behind. At the door of the hospital emergency room, a social worker informed her that only family members were allowed inside. When Strong protested that she was Fleming's partner, the social worker said that under Washington state law, same-sex partners did not qualify as family. Only an urgent call to Fleming's sister in Virginia cleared the way to get Strong through the doors. Ninety minutes later, Fleming died, with Strong at her side.

The nightmare didn't end there. The next day the man handling the funeral arrangements insisted on dealing with Fleming's mother, though Strong told him she was Fleming's spouse. "He said, 'You don't have any rights in the state of Washington'." says Strong. "I left the room and started crying." Together for 10 years, the couple had held a commitment ceremony that was not officially binding but a symbol of their relationship. "Kate was my wife, and I was her wife, and that's the way we always thought of each other," said Strong.

A little more than a month after Fleming's death, Strong appeared before a state Senate subcommittee and told in measured tones what happened that December night and in the days that followed. Hearing how Strong was treated the night of Kate Fleming's tragic death was "critical" for lawmakers, says Lisa Stone, the director of the Northwest Women's Law Center, which advocated for the bill. "It's always better if you can put a face to an issue." Last April, thanks in part to Strong's powerful testimony, the bill passed. Strong was there when Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law, making Washington the eighth state to officially recognize same-sex couples.

FBI prepares vast database of biometrics - $1 billion project to include images of irises and faces

I increasingly feel that the USA is moving towards a police state with the terror threat being used to push through spying and data gathering that would otherwise never be allowed. This MSNBC story ( suggests that I am not just being paranoid in these fears. It is truly frightening how much information the government has on individuals that they do not even know exists (e.g., a prior post that looked at Homeland Security keep records on overseas travelers, include who they travel with and what type of beds they booked in hotel rooms). Soon we may all want to wear face coverings went outside of our homes. Here are some highlights:
CLARKSBURG, W. Va. - The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad. Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives.
And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.
The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.
At the West Virginia University Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR), 45 minutes north of the FBI's biometric facility in Clarksburg, researchers are working on capturing images of people's irises at distances of up to 15 feet, and of faces from as far away as 200 yards. Soon, those researchers will do biometric research for the FBI. Covert iris- and face-image capture is several years away, but it is of great interest to government agencies.

Saturday Male Beauty


No, that is not me in the photo. It is my friend Skip who has been one of my most consistent and supportive straight friends since I came out. In fact he was one of the first friends I told and he took it in stride and teased me that he had had his suspicions. He has a wicked sense of humor. He calls me his "gay girlfriend" with whom he can share things he'd tell no one else.

It is very rare for Virginia Beach to get waves like the one in the photo - which was taken at Oceanfront around 57th Street - due to the wide continental shelf off of Virginia Beach. In contrast, the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras regularly get larger waves (often MUCH larger) because the continental shelf is much narrower and causes less drag to diminish wave size. I have been in larger waves than the one in the photo a few times (see the top photo from Hatteras Island where the waves were 12 feet or more and it is a wonder none of us drowned). It is exhilarating, but it scares the Hell out of you at the same time - falling and having a wave that size hit you is like getting hit by a truck. In winter - when the waves are generally the largest - there is the added fun of being dragged deep under in the cold water. Definitely brain freeze time when that occurs.

One of my New Years' resolutions is to get back into surfing regularly. I had a 70 consecutive month period where I never missed going out each month, even in January and February when the water temperatures can get down to about 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Surfing in such temperatures requires full body armor consisting of a winter weight wetsuit, gloves, booties and a hood on really cold days. You basically look like Batman or Robin in some of the newer wetsuits. It is great exercise and also a great stress reliever since one must focus solely on the waves - OK, and perhaps discretely on the eye candy out in the line up too - and your worries fade away. I need the exercise so I can get back my toned six pack - I haven't surfed since September and sadly it shows.

Portsmouth High School Backs Down

The Virginian Pilot is reporting that I. C. Norcom High School student Bethany Laccone can attend the high school wearing a T-shirt that depicts a lesbian pride symbol ( One small victory for local gay rights. Here are a few highlights from the coverage:
Principal Lynn Briley's announcement came a day after the American Civil Liberties Union demanded that Norcom officials apologize to the 17-year-old student after a teacher and an assistant principal reportedly made her cover up the shirt and requested she not wear it to school. The organization also requested, among other things, that officials not participate in other such "censorship" and remove any disciplinary notices related to the incident from Laccone's file. "Yes, we did make a mistake," said Briley, adding that she had talked Thursday with the teacher and assistant principal who were involved.

Briley said she agreed with the ACLU that Laconne had been censored, but that no note had been placed in her file. She said she would apologize to the student and try to meet the other demands made by the ACLU. Based on the recommendations of the division superintendent, "we're going to comply with the guidelines set by the ACLU as best as we can to resolve this matter," Briley said.
Bethany Laccone said she hopes this initial victory will encourage other gay people to not fear displaying their pride through their clothing. "I hope that some people won't be scared to show who they are and can be proud of it," she said.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Final Friday Male Beauty

Proposed Florida Gay Marriage Ban Unneeded, Insulting

That's the conclusion of the Florida Sun-Sentinel in a recent editorial addressing the fact that a proposed constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in November, 2008 - just in time to try to sway the presidential election results (.,0,798399.story?coll=sfla-opinion-utility). Perhaps the Florida Republicans who pushed this issue should have learned something from the fate of former Virginia U.S. Senator George Allen who may have LOST to Jim Webb in part because enough opponents to Virginia's "Marriage Amendment" came out to vote who might not have otherwise voted. While the amendment passed - not by a huge majority - Allen went down to defeat. Bringing out voters can cut both ways. Here are highlights from the editorial:
Let's call this proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage exactly what it is: unneeded, divisive, and a transparent attempt to get out the ultra-conservative vote.And it's also one gigantic example of overkill. Florida law already forbids gay marriage, but that's not nearly enough for the folks at, which claims it has enough signatures to put the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the November ballot. According to the group, there must be a constitutional amendment to guarantee a permanent prohibition.Who are they kidding?
This is one of the oldest political ploys going — get a good red meat issue on the ballot to bring out ultra conservatives who might otherwise sit at home on election day. Maybe scare some people and get a little fear out there. The only thing surprising about this is there isn't a group — yet — that's trying to get an amendment banning flag burning onto the November ballot in Florida.
The Florida Constitution should not be the place for zealots to turn to when they want to advance their cause. The folks promoting the constitutional gay marriage ban are insulting not only gays, but voters of all political ilk who can tell a real issue from a ruse.Unfortunately, it will take up valuable time, and space on a ballot. It never should have gotten that far.
BOTTOM LINE: Amendment isn't needed, and looks like a political play.

Ex 'ex-gay' Recants Change Claimed on 700 Club

This is a follow up to a prior post where Pat "I'm a Lunatic" Robertson's 700 Club showed a clip of a gay man who claimed he had been cured during one of the "purity sieges" along Interstate 35. Having studied these programs for years now, worked with Wayne Besen and folks over at Ex-gay Watch, and talked directly to a number of researchers, I am pretty much convinced that the only gays who are ever "changed" or "cured" by these programs are the ones who are on the "ministry" payrolls and are ex-gay for pay. Thus, it is no surprise that James Stabile (pictured at left) is recanting his story.

Yes, I know that there are those who will argue that if one's religious background makes them desire to change, they should be allowed to try to do so. That may be true theoretically. However, since NONE of these programs actually work and serve merely as propaganda ruses and cash cows for Christianist organizations, is it not better to tell these tortured souls the truth: The programs do not work!! Accept your sexual orientation and move on with your life. Yes, it took me a long time to do it myself, so I do speak from experience as to how trying to change will fuck you up big time (the only positive outcome of my misguided efforts has been my children). Do not repeat my mistakes. In any event, here are some highlights from a new Dallas Voice article (

Representatives from Heartland World Ministries Church in Las Colinas had already uncovered James Stabile’s web of lies. In fact, Stabile had decided to leave the congregation after being confronted by church leaders, and he’d been kicked out of the home where he’d been staying with other members. But that didn’t stop Heartland from asking Stabile to do an interview for a segment on televangelist Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Club” about the so-called purity sieges organized by the church outside gay bars on the Cedar Springs strip.

Joe Oden, a Heartland evangelist denied the church exploited Stabile, a 19-year-old who is bipolar but was not taking his medication. “There’s no way we took advantage of him,” Oden said, adding that Stabile stayed at the Heartland member’s home for several weeks before “The 700 Club” requested the interview.“We had no idea we would get publicity on anything, period.”[My comment to this statement: Yes, and I am the Queen Mother too]

Stabile, meanwhile, apologized to the LGBT community this week and said he hopes his story will discourage others from entertaining ideas that they can change their sexual orientations. Stabile also provided a glimpse inside the ex-gay treatment facility where he went before returning to his parents’ home in Richardson in early December. “If I could, I would take back everything I’ve said,” Stabile told Dallas Voice. “I’ve hurt a lot of people in the gay community, and I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. “I’m not here to get any attention,” he added. “I’m here to say to people that I want to help prevent other young gay guys from experiencing what I experienced, because I don’t want them to be hurt, and I was hurt really badly.”

When he wasn’t working, Stabile said there were counseling sessions, prayer meetings, Bible study, reading assignments and workbook exercises — all geared toward making him believe that if he didn’t stop being gay, he was going to hell. It was a few weeks into the program when Stabile began to question whether he could change his sexual orientation. He said he decided to pray for the answer. “I said, ‘God, am I going to be gay when I come out of here?’ And he said, ‘Yes,’” Stabile said. “I don’t want to be gay, but I am gay, and because I’m gay, I’m going to have to accept it.”

'Christian Leader' or "Christianist Fuehrer"

Today's Washington Post editorial raises serious question about Mike Huckabee's campaign and whether or not he counts non-Christian Americans as worthy of his message (full citizenship?). I have clients of diverse faiths and all are hard working and assets to the larger community. As a result - putting aside Huckabee's rampant anti-gay mindset which is an issue in and of itself for a moment - I find it insulting, as no doubt do many Americans of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or other religious backgrounds. After seven years of a president who has fomented division and hate, we do NOT need another president of that type. Here are some column highlights (
IS MIKE HUCKABEE running to be president of all Americans, or just the Christian ones? The former Arkansas governor, who has catapulted into the front ranks of GOP presidential contenders, is broadcasting a television ad this week that raises the question. As a technical matter, the ad is a beauty. "Silent Night" plays softly in the background. The camera focuses on Mr. Huckabee, clad in a red sweater. Behind him is a bookcase, its intersecting shelves lighted up in the form of a glowing white cross.
"My faith is my life -- it defines me," Mr. Huckabee likes to say, and we respect that conviction. What gives us pause is a continuing theme in Mr. Huckabee's rhetoric that does not seem to give equal respect to -- or, at times, even acknowledge the existence of -- those of other faiths, or of no faith at all. As much as Mr. Huckabee would like to dismiss them as such, these concerns have nothing to do with a politically correct "war on Christmas."
We don't have any problem with candidates taking time to wish voters "Merry Christmas," as several other candidates are doing in ads this week. But unlike Mr. Huckabee's, their ads do not send an explicitly and exclusively Christian message -- and while Mr. Huckabee says people who imagine a gleaming white cross are suffering from overactive imaginations, we invite you to look at the ad and judge for yourself.
In 1998, Mr. Huckabee spoke of the need to "take this nation back for Christ," though he told Tim Russert this year, "I'd probably phrase it a little differently today." Would he?
Personally, I do not think he would. In my opinion, this man is trouble for anyone who is different and who believes in freedom of religion for all citizens. Here are some of the things Huckabee boasts about on his campaign website, starting with "Marriage":
I support and have consistently supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to pass a similar state constitutional amendment in 2002. As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to make our state only the third to adopt "covenant" marriage. I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My personal belief is that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life. What's the point of keeping the terrorists at bay in the Middle East if we can't keep decline and decadence at bay here at home?
On Immigration:
I will take our country back for those who belong here. No open borders, no amnesty, no sanctuary, no false Social Security numbers, no driver's licenses for illegals.

More Friday Male Beauty

The Electability Issue

As Andrew Sullivan notes today concerning the U.S. presidential election, one big issue is that of electability ( The Washington Blade has endorsed Hillary, but from my prior years in the GOP, I think people are very much underestimating how much she will motivate Republican voters if she is the Democrat nominee. Rightly or wrongly, she sets off harsh reactions and will make some GOP voters go to the polls and vote for a candidate they do not like rather than let Hillary win. It is not rational, but it is a reality that must be factored in. In saying this, I am not saying that I do not like Hillary on some issues, but if she cannot win, then we have all been tilting at windmills and will have four more years of GOP nightmare. Personally, I do not think I or the country could take another four years of GOP control of the White House.
While I have not fully made up my mind on Obama, some of the polling makes him appear perhaps the more electable candidate in a general election, which is what ultimately matters. The figures from a new Zogby Poll ( are informative:
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama would defeat all five of the top Republicans in prospective general election contests, performing better than either of his two top rivals, a new Zogby telephone poll shows. His margins of advantage range from a 4 percent edge over Arizona Sen. John McCain and a 5 percent edge over Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee to an 18 percentage point lead over Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the survey shows. Against New York’s Rudy Giuliani he leads by 9%, and against Fred Thompson of Tennessee he holds a 16 point edge.
Democrat Hillary Clinton of New York would defeat Romney by a narrow 46% to 44% margin and Thompson by a 48% to 42% margin. She would lose to Huckabee 48% to 43%, to Giuliani 46% to 42%, and to McCain by a 49% to 42% margin. The data suggest that Clinton has improved her position slightly.
Democrat John Edwards of North Carolina would beat Romney, Huckabee, and Thompson, but would lose to Giuliani and McCain, the Zogby survey shows.
Other polls show Independents also more likely to vote for Obama over Clinton. For real change to come about, the GOP needs to suffer a crushing defeat in 2008. The other intangible outcome of an Obama presidency would be the message to the world: A black American with an Arabic middle name as President would blow away many stereotypes. Domestically, it would show once and for all that black Americans do have opportunities if they will but take them. Ditto for every other minority. I believe he also would be best able to usher in the winds of change that are so desperately needed. Internationally, it would make detractors of the USA in both Africa and the Middle East have to rethink their anti-US spin and admit that the "American Dream" of opportunity for all is still real and that it is not just propaganda. That would be remarkable. Am I am idealist at times? Yes, I confess that I am.

USA in Recession

Well, I could have told you this and have in fact hinted in prior posts that I thought the USA was headed toward financial trouble a number of times. It is nice to see that others concur as indicated by this Financial Times article ( I truly believe that until the housing and mortgage markets revive, there will be a tremendous downward pressure on the economy as a whole. Note how the founder of Pimco, one of the world’s largest fixed-income managers, things very little of what the Chimperator and the Federal reserve have proposed to date. Here are some story highlights:
Bill Gross, founder of Pimco, one of the world’s largest fixed-income managers, has sounded a downbeat note on the US economy by saying it has gone into recession. “If I had to be bold I’d say we began a recession in December,” he said in a Financial Times interview, in which he called on the Federal Reserve to bring interest rates down to 3 per cent. The recession would last “four to five months”, he thought, but he added it would be prolonged if the administration and Congress failed to “take some rather unperceived and unforecasted measures in terms of fiscal stimulation”.
Mr Gross, whose company has $750bn of assets under management, was critical of US attempts to stabilise credit markets, describing the “Super Siv” and plans to freeze mortgage teaser rates as a “temporary fix”. He said: “What needs to be done is something fairly radical compared to Republican orthodoxy, which means spend money and absorb the deficit as opposed to pretending that you’re fiscally conservative.”

He was highly critical of the complicated financial instruments that have exacerbated the credit squeeze, saying the trend of over-leverage was a “dying concept” that will “lead to an implosion at the edges . . . of this new financial marketplace.” He also had stern words for hedge funds, describing them as a “con”.
Mr Gross founded Pimco in Newport Beach in 1971, building it into a powerful bond manager that continues to operate from southern California. With California one of the first places to feel the effects of the subprime crisis, Mr Gross said, the company’s location alerted him early to the danger that has since wreaked havoc in world markets. Pimco switched out of mortgage-backed securities in 2006 and for the first half of 2007 fell behind its competitors. However, in the second half it has outperformed the market as Wall Street has racked up billions of dollars in subprime-related losses.
I also recommend Paul Krugman's column that looks at the failure of regulators who let the motgage disaster ensue:

Friday Male Beauty

Portsmouth school asked to stop censoring lesbian symbol

The Virginian Pilot, ever slow on the uptake, is today reporting on the story about the I. C. Norcom High School student who has been punished for wearing a lesbian pride t-shirt ( What really pisses me off is the stupid comment by the principal's executive assistant which I have set out below. This comment is typical of this backward area where the cretins in positions of influence are utterly ignorant of what the LGBT community is really like. As surprising as it may be to them, gays and lesbians are represented throughout the business world and many are very successful business owners. Moreover, the majority of the Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that protect LGBT employees from treatment such as Ms. Laccone has experienced. Locally organizations like HRBOR and nationally like the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce represent hundreds, if not thousands of gay owned and gay supportive businesses. Not everywhere is as backwards as Hampton Roads.

If I.C. Norcom wants to prepare students for the business world, it had best teach them that not all regions of the country and not all businesses are as backward and prejudiced as the wingnut I.C. Norcom teacher who took issue with Bethany Laccone's t-shirt. Enough of the sermon - here are story highlights that add to the article cited yesterday:
School officials have until Jan. 11 to respond. A possible action by the ACLU could include a lawsuit if the demands aren't met, said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia. Attempts to reach Norcom officials and the division superintendent were unsuccessful Thursday. However, Joseph L. Wiggins, the superintendent's executive assistant, said he had not seen the letter and could only speculate about why the student was reportedly asked not to wear the T-shirt. "The concern could be that we are training students to go out into the business world," he said, "But again, I don't know."

The ACLU contends that in early December, a teacher and an assistant principal at Norcom told 17-year-old Bethany Laccone to conceal a T-shirt that depicts a "well-known and historic signifier of lesbian pride and female solidarity." According to the ACLU letter, Bethany was threatened with suspension if she did not respond.
Bethany told her dad, Michael Laccone, about the day's happenings. He encouraged his daughter to contact the ACLU if she wanted to push the issue. A few days later, Laccone said he met with the assistant principal who his daughter claims had spoken to her. "I didn't think it was right to make her cover up a shirt when they allow other students to express themselves while wearing T-shirts," Laccone said Thursday. Laccone said that the administrator told him the shirt had upset Bethany's teacher to the point that it interfered with her ability to teach. Laccone said that sounds like a problem the school needs to resolve with the teacher, not with his daughter.
I. C. Norcom High School
1801 London Boulevard
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Phone: (757) 393-5442
Fax: (757) 393-5449
Principal: Lynn F. Briley -

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Question to Readers

If there are any topics any of you readers would like me to talk about or types of stories you prefer, drop me a comment or an e-mail. I try to post about stories and issues that catch my attention or about which I am passionate, but I may not always address things of interest to all of you. Each of us sees the world from a different perspective, so tell me what I am missing.

Also, I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful Holiday Season. Your interest in this blog (and in me) have meant a great deal to me over the last eight months that I have been blogging regularly. As I have said before, my "cyberfamily" has helped keep me sane - I think I still am sane, in any event - and been there for me in times of need. Words do not express how much it has meant to me.

Holiday Season Blues

I know that the Holiday season is supposed to be joyous, yet most years I find myself in depression. Work usually involves year end chaos and worries over money. With the free fall in the housing market, residential work is way down and cash flow with it. Hence this year is worse than most. In addition, clients want you to work around their schedules, yet often care nothing of your attempts to have a life. There are days I almost would prefer to not wake up.

On the other hand, the divorce is finally done, my kids are reconciling with me, and my son recovered from his accident, so I have some things to be happy about as the year closes. Yet I find that I have a strong melancholy that I cannot shake. With the 24th and 31st being work days – I am closing a commercial deal on the 31st, in fact - it makes going out of town difficult. I guess I also am finding myself thinking of last year when my ex (who I still very much care about even if we do better living apart) and I spent Christmas at my mom’s place. There is no one special in my life this year – no one even on the horizon.

The roommates are staying in town and they may want to do something on Christmas if I am in town. One of them is not out to his conservative parents and I doubt he'd want to leave the other by himself. They are sweet guys (cute too) and having them around has lessened the loneliness. My best friends, Christopher and Martin, will be out of town (Christopher wants to be somewhere else since this is the first Christmas without his mom and they do not want to go to Marty’s family since his parents – at least his mother - is not very accepting of their relationship even though they got married in Canada last July), so doing anything with them is not an option. I guess I need to decide something soon!!

Lakota Sioux Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. And Declare Independence And Form Own Nation

I hate to quote from Fox News, so I am quoting instead a Turkish new site that picked up this interesting story ( ). Obviously, the USA has never lived up to its treaties with Native Americans, who were disposessed of their lands and slaughtered on a massive scale. The term "genocide" springs to mind as an apt description of what occurred. My question is whether or not the new Lakota nation will have gay friendly laws and allow gay marriage. If so, they might find themselves with an influx of citizens and money and talent. After all, currently gays in the USA are second class citizens, so giving up one's citizenship would be an easier step than for straights. Here are some story highlights:
WASHINGTON — The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States. "We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said. A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., some of them more than 150 years old.

The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months. Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free - provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said.
The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence — an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England. Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said. One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples — despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,'' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference. The U.S. "annexation'' of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people,'' said Means.

More Thursday Male Beauty

U. S. Senate Considers Gay Partner Benefits for Federal Employees

A bill introduced in the United States Senate would equalize employment benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal employees. No doubt the Christianist wing nuts will go berserk as only they can. Maybe James Dobson, Beverly LaHaye and Tony Perkins at FRC will have aneurysms (one can hope, after all). As reported by PageOneQ, this bill has 19 co-sponsors in the Senate. It would be nice to see the bill pass, but given how other pro-gay rights bills are languishing in Congress, I will not be holding my breath. Here are some highlights:
S.2521, also known as the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, was introduced Wednesday by Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and 19 co-sponsors. The legislation seeks to grant health benefits, family medical leave, long-term care and retirement benefits, to match those of married couples, to the domestic partners of federal employees.

"The federal government should be leading the way rather than following when it comes to providing benefits," says Senator Smith. "Rights and benefits must be afforded to all employees equally. This bill corrects the current inequity." "It's time for the federal government to catch up to the private sector," adds Senator Lieberman, "not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment."
The bill's 19 co-sponsors are:
Sen. Daniel Akaka [D-HI]
Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA]
Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-OH]
Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-WA]
Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D-MD]
Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
Sen. Christopher Dodd [D-CT]
Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL]
Sen. Russell Feingold [D-WI]
Sen. Edward Kennedy [D-MA]
Sen. John Kerry [D-MA]
Sen. Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ]
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT]
Sen. Carl Levin [D-MI]
Sen. Patty Murray [D-WA]
Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]
Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]
Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR]
The full story on the proposed federal legislation can be found here:

Homo Witch Hunt in Morocco

I spent time in Morocco over twenty years ago when I was in-house counsel for an oil company and found the country to be quite pleasant and very pro-western. I always thought of it as a country I would like to visit again. Perhaps not after all. I was disturbed to read this story of anti-gay arrests and a general anti-gay atmosphere as reported by Gay City News ( I am sure that this is exactly what Daddy Dobson and the folks at New Life Church would like to do to gays if they could.
When I was in Morocco, the government ministry personnel that we met with in Rabat to negotiate a concession agreement during non-business hours drank alcohol like there was no tomorrow and even took us to an private club with "ladies of the evening," if you get my drift. It's the same old hypocritical double standard. Punish gays and close your eyes to everything else. Here are some story highlights:
Amid media hysteria and large and riotous anti-gay demonstrations in Morocco, six men whom prosecutors claimed participated in a "gay marriage" have been convicted of violating that country's law against homosexual conduct and sent to prison. The drama, which attracted huge national media coverage- in large measure of an hysterically anti-gay character - took place last month in Ksar El Kébir, a largely impoverished city of more than 100,000 halfway between Tangier and the nation's capital of Rabat, and which is dominated politically by the principal Islamist party, the Party of Justice and Development, popular among Morocco's economically deprived majority.
According to the feisty Moroccan French-language weekly magazine Tel Quel, noted for its progressive views, "All began when F., a local celebrity known for his sales of alcohol, organized a private party on November 19 in a house in the Hay Diwan neighborhood, habitually reserved for celebrations of marriage...F. 'has the reputation of a libertine whose comings and goings are spied on by the local population,' a local source told us, 'and his party did not go unnoticed.'
"The day after the party, anger spread throughout the city as the rumor spread like wildfire that a 'homosexual marriage' had been organized the night before," continued Tel Quel. "There was a chain reaction when a video of the party was quickly posted on YouTube, and on November 21 a petition was published calling for 'the opening of an official investigation into the celebration of a homosexual marriage'" in Ksar El Kébir, according to Tel Quel.The petition was signed not only by the Party of Justice and Development and numerous local associations, but, surprisingly, also by the local chapter of the national human rights group, the Association Marocaine des Droits Humains (ADMH).
The court sentenced three defendants to six months in prison and two defendants to four months; it sentenced the sixth, whom it also convicted of the unauthorized sale of alcohol, to 10 months.Abdelaziz Nouaydi, a Rabat lawyer on the men's defense team, told Human Rights Watch staffers that the judge convicted the men even though the prosecution presented no evidence showing that behavior violating Article 489 had occurred, offering the video of the party as the only evidence. The video included no indications of sexual activity.The six defendants all pleaded innocent to offenses under the article. At the trial, the judge refused to release the men provisionally pending their appeals.

Thursday Male Beauty

Dedicated to BostonPobble who says she appreciates male beauty more than Karen England, the California anti-gay nutcase mentioned on Tuesday.

Local Anti-Gay Christianist Bigotry in Portsmouth Virginia

Just when I begin to think that perhaps things are changing for the better in this area for those of us in the LGBT community, a story like this one pops up and shows that prejudice and discrimination are still very wide spread. As is reporting (, a 17 year old lesbian student was suspended from I. C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia - i.e., right across the river from Norfolk - for wearing a t-shirt featuring a lesbian pride symbol. I suspect NOTHING would have been said if she had been wearing a t-shirt with Christian imagery on it or something promoting an anti-gay rapper. In my view, if the teacher involved cannot handle exposure to LGBT students, she needs to resign and find a job with one of the numerous wingnut, bible-thumping Christian schools in the area. I hope the American Civil Liberties Union keeps up the pressure on the school and the school board. Here are some story highlights:
(Portsmouth, Virginia) The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday demanded that a high school that punished a student for wearing a t-shirt featuring a lesbian pride symbol apologize to the student and guarantee that it will no longer illegally censor her in the future. School officials at I.C. Norcom High School had threatened the 17-year-old senior with suspension because a teacher was upset by her t-shirt, which had an image of two overlapping female gender symbols.

“When my teacher told me she wanted me to turn my shirt inside-out or cover it up, I was confused, because I’ve worn that shirt to school several times before and nobody ever said a word about it,” said Bethany Laccone, who attends a different school full-time but goes to Norcom High every morning for a hotel management class. “I wear that shirt because I want people to know that I’m proud of being a lesbian and comfortable with who I am. And I have the same Constitutional right to free speech as any other student.”
In a letter sent to I.C. Norcom High School officials this morning, the ACLU demanded that any mention of the censorship be removed from Laccone’s student record, that the school guarantee it would not illegally censor Laccone or other students in the future, and that the school apologize to Laccone for its actions. “What’s happening to Bethany Laccone is a clear-cut case of unconstitutional censorship,” said Kent Willis, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia.
Laccone says that on December 10 she was pulled out of class by a teacher who said she shouldn’t be wearing the shirt at school and then sent her to the assistant principal’s office. The assistant principal and the teacher then told Laccone that the shirt violated a section of the school dress code that bans “bawdy, salacious or sexually suggestive messages.”

In a later meeting with Laccone’s father, the assistant principal said that he was upholding the censorship, and added that because the teacher is “very conservative” she claimed she was so upset by the t-shirt that it “interfered with her ability to teach.” “A public school teacher’s job is to serve the needs of all the students who go to that school,” said Christine Sun, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “If a teacher can’t deal with the fact that there are gay students in her classroom, that doesn’t mean she gets to violate that student’s First Amendment rights.”

Barclays Sues Bear Syerns Over Sub-Prime Losses - Federal Reserve Might Have Prevented the Mess

It will be interesting to watch and see whether other investors - especially non-US investors - decide to sue the Wall Street firms that packaged and sold these mortgage investment vehicles that have turned toxic for the buyers. Barclays is but one of many foreign investors that purchased these investments and have ended up losing huge sums of money. Among other things, Bear Sterns is accused of fraud and deception. I have no sympathy for lenders and others who recklessly made these dangerous loans and then sold to third parties. Also at fault for this fiasco is the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency which had authority to regulate such loan operations and basically did nothing as described in the New York Times piece quoted below. . The perpetrators made out like bandits. Now everyone is suffering directly or indirectly. This story from The Guardian ( describes the lawsuit filed by Barclays. Here are some highlights:
Barclays' exposure to America's sub-prime mortgage fiasco took a dramatic turn last night as the bank sued the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns for fraud and deception over the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in an ill-fated hedge fund. In a lawsuit filed in New York, Barclays accused Bear Stearns of systematically hiding losses in a fund which swallowed $400m (£200m) of the British bank's money. The fund had to be bailed out in June after reaching the brink of collapse following a disastrous series of investments in mortgage-backed securities.

Barclays described the fund's demise as "one of the most high profile and shocking hedge fund failures in the last decade". The suit alleges that up to the last days before the bail-out, Bear Stearns executives engaged in a cover-up to hide the slump in its value. In addition to Bear Stearns, the suit targets the Wall Street firm's senior managing director for asset management, Matthew Tannin. A third defendant, fund manager, Ralph Cioffi, is already under investigation by US federal prosecutors for withdrawing his own money from the hedge fund while assuring investors not to worry.

"The defendants entered intentionally into a relationship in which Barclays placed trust and confidence in them," the suit says. It describes Bear Stearns' conduct as "wilful, malicious, reckless and without regard to Barclays' rights and interests". According to Barclays, Bear Stearns frequently diverged from agreed guidelines on the type of investments to be made by the fund. Between 75% and 100% of the fund's portfolio was supposed to go into assets with top-notch credit ratings of between AAA and AA minus.

The suit says Bear Stearns and Cioffi "hatched a plan to make more money for themselves" by creating an unauthorised new investment vehicle which they planned to float. Barclays details a series of lunch meetings in New York at which its staff were assured that the fund was going well. But it says detailed updates of performance tended to be provided late and incomplete. Throughout the spring of 2007, it says, Tannin repeatedly used the word "great" to describe progress.
Criminal prosecutors are examining whether Cioffi, who managed the fund, improperly withdrew $2m of his own money while providing bullish updates to clients about the fund's performance - a move characterised as a hedge fund manager "hedging himself". Cioffi recently left the firm, although Bear Stearns has not disclosed the circumstances of his departure.
Here are quotes from the New York Times editorial from yesterday (
An article in The Times on Tuesday by Edmund L. Andrews leaves no doubt that the twin crises of the subprime lending mess — mass foreclosures at one end of the economic scale and a credit squeeze afflicting the financial system — are rooted in the willful failure of federal regulators to heed numerous warnings.

The Federal Reserve is especially blameworthy. Starting as early as 2000, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan brushed aside warnings from another Fed governor, Edward M. Gramlich, about subprime lenders who were luring borrowers into risky loans. Mr. Greenspan’s insistence, to this day, that the Fed did not have the power to rein in such lending is nonsense.

In 1994, Congress passed a law requiring the Fed to regulate all mortgage lending. The language is crystal clear: the Fed “by regulation or order, shall prohibit acts or practices in connection with A) mortgage loans that the board finds to be unfair, deceptive, or designed to evade the provisions of this section; and B) refinancing of mortgage loans that the board finds to be associated with abusive lending practices, or that are otherwise not in the interest of the borrower.”

Yet, the Fed did nothing as junk lending proliferated — including loans that were unsustainable unless house prices rose in perpetuity, riddled with hidden fees and made to borrowers who could not repay. When all the truth is out, the Fed will have company in the hall of shame. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, for example, blocked states from investigating local affiliates of national banks for abusive lending.

If the regulators had done their jobs, there might have been no lending boom and no extraordinary riches for the lenders and investors who profited from unfettered subprime lending. Neither would there be mass foreclosures, a credit crunch and a looming recession.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Final Wednesday Male Beauty

Clinton Campaign Mimics Karl Rove Tactics - Stop It Hillary!!

I am increasingly concerned by things being done by the Clinton Campaign to harm Obama’s image. One would almost believe that Karl Rove was advising Hillary, not that she does not innocently claim to have no knowledge of the dirty tricks. From my years in politics and working on campaigns, I realize that politics and campaigns can be dirty at times. However, the candidate is ultimately responsible for the actions of EVERY campaign worker and advisor. Smiling denials of ignorance on the action just does not cut it. Hillary, we want CHANGE and that includes integrity in one’s campaign.

One example of what I am talking about is this the picture posted above that I received from a friend who was really pissed off – and he’s been a Hillary supporter to date and received an e-mail (not officially from Hillary’s campaign). The following caption was under the photo:

Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Hillary Clinton and Ruth Harkin stand during the national anthem. Barack Hussein Obama's photo (that's his real name)......the article said he REFUSED TO NOT ONLY PUT HIS HAND ON HIS HEART DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, BUT REFUSED TO SAY THE in the hell can a man like this expect to be our next Commander-in-Chief????

Notice the wording’s emphasis on Obama’s middle name? In addition to the cheap shots about Obama’s name, Clinton minions have been talking up his drug use as a teenager on TV interviews and stressing his immaturity, even though he is four (4) years older than Bill Clinton was when he ran for President. I do not know too many people Barak’s age – or mine for that matter – who have not briefly tried drugs in their youth other than perhaps some of the Christianist nutcases. Give it up Hillary!!

As for the photo, a good friend reports that although the Flag Code is U.S. Federal law, there is no penalty for failure to comply with the Flag Code and it is not widely enforced—indeed, punitive enforcement would conflict with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. IPlus, it was during the national anthem, not the pledge of allegiance.
In other words, can we move past this? And can we stop acting like Karl Rove is calling the shots? Or should we rather support another future president (such as (Bush) is unfortunately titled today) that can salute the flag or national anthem but cannot admit when he is wrong when he makes a mistake- i.e, middle East Wars, highest deficit ever, personalization of retirement accounts, weakening economy & dollar, - etc, etc, etc...

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Uruguayan President To Sign Gay Unions Bill

As this story indicates ( gay rights continue to improve in parts of South America if not here in Virginia and in most of George W. Bush's Amerika. Who would ever have thought that Uruguay would offer more liberty and freedom than most states in the USA? Here are some story highlights:
(Montevideo) Uruguay President Tabare Vazquez said Wednesday that he will sign legislation making the country the first in Latin America to allow civil unions. The final version of the bill passed Congress on Tuesday. Initial drafts of the legislation passed the Senate earlier this year and the lower house last month.

The law will allow same and opposite-sex couples to form civil unions. Couples must have been together for at least five years and sign a registry. They would then receive pension, inheritance and parenting rights.
In neighboring Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul state which lies along the border, passed civil union legislation in 2004, two years after Buenos Aires passed a similar law. Civil unions also are legal in Mexico City and Coahuila state. Earlier this year lawmakers in Colombia passed legislation giving same-sex couples most of the same rights as opposite-sex married couples and a week later killed it in a procedural move by conservative senators.

Wednesday Male Beauty

True Friendship

I found this over at Real Euphoria and it touched a chord with me. Having lost most of my "friends" when I came out and went through the brutal divorce, there is much truth in these lines. Each of us needs to treasure our real friends.

A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself and doesn’t
feel even the least bit weird shutting your‘beer/Pepsi drawer’ with his foot!
A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend shoulder is soggy from your tears.

A simple friend doesn’t know your parents’ first Names.
A real friend has their phone numbers In his address book.
A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your Party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and Stays late to help you clean.
A simple friend hates it when you call after They’ve gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why you took so long to Call.

A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your Problems.
A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.

A simple friend wonders about your romantic History.
A real friend could blackmail you with it!

A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when You have an argument.
A real friend calls you after you had a fight.
A simple friend expects you to always be there for Them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you!

My Commentary on Huckabee's MSNBC Interview This Morning

As is the case most mornings, I was watching Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe on MSNBC while eating breakfast and getting my morning caffeine fix. I caught most of the interview with Mike Huckabee, but what most terrified me was when Scarborough asked Huckabee what his position was on separation of church and state. Hukabee's response was that "the Constitution prevents the government from giving preference or establishment of a particular religion BUT THAT IT DOES NOT PREVENT THE PEOPLE FROM DOING SO." Scarborough repeated the question and again Huckabee said the Constitution did not limit what the people can do.
Why is this important? Because if one has regularly monitored the Christianist organization web sites and read some of their legal briefs in appellate court cases such as Lawrence v. Texas, they clearly believe that religious beliefs, sexual morals are to be decided by the majority of the population. Minority views and/or groups do NOT have the right to depart from or hold opposing views. This was very clear in some of the statements in briefs filed in Lawrence v. Texas and is also evident in Christianist site views on affirmative action, immigration issues, and gay rights issues and a number of other matters. Their view of freedom of religion means that no one can restrict their religious views, but that differing or minority views do NOT enjoy the same rights.

Since Huckabee is clearly one of the Christianists, his response should set off alarm bells. While outwardly sounding as if he has no problem with complying with the First Amendment, his comment on what the people can do shows that he believes that the people - whether it be 50. 01% or some larger majority CAN establish one religious view as the predominant belief system. The passage of anti-gay marriage amendments in various states - Florida being the next state where they will attempt this approach - shows how the Christianists will proceed to change governing documents to enshrine one particular religious belief system. I cannot stress too strongly how great a threat Huckabee and people like him are to the freedoms long enjoyed by citizens of this country. Stated another way, were Huckabee to be elected President, I believe it would be time for me to seriously look into emigrating. Sadly, your soccer mom crowd and many others are totally oblivious to what is slowly but surely happening.